Movie Review: Nightcrawler

Dylan Haviland – General Assignment Reporter 

The history of cinema has often given birth to characters driven to success, creating heroes that do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.  Once in a blue moon, film will turn its back on conventional characters and create a being both maniacal and genius.

Director Dan Gilroy’s film, ‘Nightcrawler’ revives the sensation of viewing a character whose insanity grips the audiences.

The action/crime film revolves around the anti-hero Lou Bloom, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.

Lou Bloom is a character shrouded in mystery, a low life that steals and bargains to maintain his lifestyle.  The character’s life is changed when he comes across a TV news crew, filming a scene of carnage.  Bloom is enticed by the action and promise of pay as he thrusts himself into the cunning world of criminal journalism.

Armed with a camera and his lack of empathy for human life, Bloom stops at nothing to reach the top.  He becomes a freelancer in the “nightcrawler” business, which consists of videotaping crime to sell to the highest bidder.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is both captivating and disturbing to watch during the film.  His character is living in a world where only his future matters, the horrible crimes he witnesses are only a means to his goals.  Gyllenhaal performs his scenes with a cool and calculating glare, his eyes seemingly staring into the souls of the audience.

Actor Riz Ahmed provides an excellent supporting role as Rick, Lou Bloom’s partner through the film.  Ahmed’s character shows a surprising amount of character development compared to the rest of the cast, whose personalities remain static. The actor transforms as a man willing to do anything to get a job, into a conscious character who questions the morals of what he does for money.

The film’s few flaws lie with the fact that the characters show little sign of emotional development.  Gyllenhaal right from the beginning is very obvious towards what kind of character he is, an intelligent low life with high ambitions, but from there nothing changes.  While his lack of empathy provides an entertaining viewing, it lacks vibrant emotion in certain scenes.

‘Nightcrawler’ sports an excellent use of cinematography to accompany Gyllenhaal’s exploits. Dan Gilroy captures the essence of a nocturnal LA, with the lights of the skyline creating a spectacular collage of colors.  The film reflects a new age noir film, the streets of the city add a stylish touch of danger and unknown.

The camera does not shy away from the onscreen violence that is scattered in powerful segments.  ‘Nightcrawler’ is not necessarily an action packed movie, but when it delivers scenes of violence it relies heavily on shock value to compensate for the length of the shots.

Furthermore, the film speaks volumes on society’s lust for violence and action in public media.  Gyllenhaal throughout the movie only seeks the bloodiest of crimes, what he sees as newsworthy for audiences.  Primarily, he focuses on the privileged victims of LA, ignoring the other crimes that plague the streets.

The character Lou Bloom portrays a man in modern times hanging onto sanity, hiding it with a façade of success.  He reflects people not only as an individual character but perhaps the rat race business he focuses on.  In the film he commits unspeakable acts, completely devoid of morals, but in today’s world when has that not been done?

The social commentary and Gyllenhaal’s performance render ‘Nightcrawler’ as a powerful film, radically questioning the ethics of news journalism and its audience.

Photo Credit: Steven Buss

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